Comedysportz: Cal High’s Best Kept Secret

If I threw you on a stage and asked you to speak for four minutes about a topic you knew nothing about, could you do it? What if I told you there was a whole group at Cal High dedicated to doing just that  and doing it in spectacular fashion…

Pictured are the members of the comedysportz team

This group is Cal High’s best kept secret and is a part of the Comedysportz High School League. Comedysportz is improv, acting without a script, played competitively. It is performed in front of a live audience, who are participants in the shows themselves as they shout out the suggestions. After two halves of a red and blue team playing improv games, a winner is declared based on the accumulation of points, points are given based on audience applause. This spectacle requires practice, which takes place every Thursday night with the entire 17-person team. A few of the cal high team members, known as “players”, filled me in on their experience on the comedysportz team.

Valeria Ames, a first year player, described what a practice typically looks like.

“Typically practices are 1-2 hours, we always start with short warm-up games and then transition into longer scene games where we can really gauge our ability to form CROWE’s within a scene (Characters, Relationship, Objectives, Where, Emotion).” 

The environment surrounding practices is emphasized to remain positive and to have it be a place of fun. Noa Larios went further into the atmosphere of comedysportz, “Practices and events have this energy to them where it’s all going to plan but we’re still having fun and messing around, it’s super easy to fit into the family that is comedysportz when it’s so accepting and friendly.”

Picture from their annual convention with other teams

Improv can be done in many fashions through a variety of games, two upperclassmen players shared their two favorites: 

Dezteni Barraza’s personal favorite is a scene game called,” Four Square. It gives you a chance to work with not only one person but TWO people and get creative with switching roles, building the story and the suggestions we get are really funny.“

Another scene game, comedysportz returner Leah Cokias described a crowd favorite, Survivor.  

“It’s where the team of four acts out a 1-min improvised scene based on a suggestion from the audience…Then the audience votes off one person from the scene and the other 3 have to fill in for that person, their dialogue, actions etc..Then another person is voted off and so on until one person is left to perform all four parts of the scene. It’s really fun to see how the energy ramps up as each player tries to fill in the parts of the missing players. There’s something thrilling about the suspense of waiting to see who’s voted off next.” 

Players who are new to the team, adorably nicknamed “newbies”, typically attend practices for a semester before they are cleared to play in front of a live audience. The practice does not go to waste and it builds up for the big show. 

“Doing shows in front of people is great!! I’ve only done one so far but being on the stage just feels right to me, like it’s something I should be doing.” Valeria briefly added what her mental preparation looks like,” I do need to mentally prepare a little bit just to get any nerves and adrenaline out but that’s about it!”

Games hold a special place in Dezteni’s heart, “My favorite memory of comedy sports is our first practice game. The scene is entirely different. Getting the chance to show people what we’ve been working on for months was illuminating and it really is a joy to be able to work with my teammates and make people laugh. It was an adrenaline rush and we all got to support each other to create a hilarious scene.” 

Leah also remembers her first game fondly,”My freshman year, the newbies game. It was the first game I ever played for an audience and I was really nervous but I remember feeling so comfortable on stage with Autumn, Arianna, and Hailie. I felt much more confident after that and I just loved the feeling of making the crowd laugh.” 

Lorelei Dumas recalled a specific scene she feels particularly connected to,”My favorite scene I’ve done in ComedySportz was during a game of Off Stage Directions. I remember that the suggestion for the scene was trophy and as the scene evolved I had said a line that made the whole audience laugh. Right after that, my teammate said another hilarious one-liner to finish it off and it was the best scene I think I have ever been a part of.”

Picture taken mid-show, student carries another player out of the scene

As rewarding as the experience seems, one has to wonder, what first made the players want to join the high school Comedysportz team?

Lorelei explained, “I joined ComedySportz because I wanted to try something new. It looked like a lot of fun and I thought that it would be a good way to make new friends.” 

“I wanted to join comedy sportz because the improv aspect of it really interested me! Since freshman year my goal was always to be as involved in school activities as I could and just try to get out of my shell!” Valeria emphasized the special quality the group has,”Comedysportz was also something super different than I’d seen at school so I thought I’d give it a shot!” 

Dezteni shared with me how much is to be gained from the unique performance experience that is improv, “From being in Comedysportz I’ve gotten new amazingly talented friends, I’ve been able to build my confidence, and enhance my love for performing arts……But mainly to be able to work with other efficiently and help each and create something beautiful, funny, tragic, and wacky for people to enjoy.” 

Players develop deep and intense stories in the games.

There is a numerous amount of terminology that is needed to know at Comedysportz: newbie, CROWE, returner, objective, tactic. Leah added on with one more thing those who want to join Comedysportz should know,”Its not as easy as it might seem, but it’s absolutely worth putting the work into. It’s really rewarding and you’ll meet a lot of really unique and fun people. It’s also just a really supportive group of people who won’t judge you. It doesn’t always go as planned, but you learn to laugh at yourself just as much as you learn to make the audience laugh.”

The next Comedyspotz games are on March 7th and the 31st, see @calhigh_drama on Instagram for more information.